Last week, we opened up this short series on leadership with the crucial question: "What is leadership?"
If the teachings of Jesus (especially in Mark 10) can clarify for us what leadership is (hint: serving); then maybe Dwight Schrute can help us understand what leadership is not.
For those of you not familiar with the popular television show, The Office, one of the central characters is a very ambitious and relationally clueless employee named Dwight. His greatest ambition in life is to be a loyal employee of Dunder Mifflin, a small paper company, and to eventually replace his boss, Michael Scott, as the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin's small Scranton office.
Since Michael enjoys Dwight's loyalty and above-and-beyond service, he creates a title for Dwight: "assistant to the regional manager." However, throughout the show, Dwight regularly drops the preposition "to" and simply refers to himself as the "assistant regional manager." This is usually when Michael is gone and Dwight is trying to pull rank on his colleagues in the office. As one might expect, no one is ever persuaded to follow Dwight's lead when he starts his sentences with "As assistant regional manager, I order you to ..." In fact, Dwight's power grabs are always countered with sarcasm and never taken seriously by his coworkers.
Because leadership is not position or title.
Some of the best leaders I have met over the years did not (at least at the time) have a leadership position or title in the organization that they were serving. But they acted like leaders anyway. It's not that they were presumptuous or insubordinate. What made them leaders was that they took initiative to serve and solve problems, and others saw their example and decided to follow.
Do you want to be a leader?
Then take initiative and start serving. Lead by example and others will follow. It's that simple. You will never become a leader if you wait for someone to give you a title, a salary, a budget, a staff, an office and a website.
You can start leading wherever you are right now.
NOTE: This blog was adapted from my new book, The Multiplication Challenge. For more discussion on leadership and service, check out Chapter 2, entitled, "How to Act Like a Leader."
Steve Murrell serves as the president of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, a ministry that does church planting and campus ministry in over 70 nations.
This article originally appeared at stevemurrell.com.
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